Wiltshire Police take the second longest to answer 999 calls out of all UK police forces, figures appear to show.

Yet Wiltshire Police have blamed BT as partly responsible for the delay.

With an average response time of 19.03 seconds from February 2023 to February 2024, the force was second only to Bedfordshire Police.

Wiltshire Police are also missing the official response times target, shows data collected by BT on behalf of the Home Office and analysed by Injury Claims.

Forces aim to answer 90 per cent of all 999 calls in under 10 seconds, but Wiltshire Police answered only 70.23 per cent of calls in that time.

The figures show Wiltshire Police have also got 15.33 per cent slower at answering 999 calls from 2021 to 2024.

However, Wiltshire Police claim that the issue is ‘largely out of their control’.

Chief Superintendent Dave Minty, Wiltshire Police Head of Contact Management, said: “It’s important to understand that the first element of this is the initial handling of the call by BT.

“That side of the call process is largely out of our control and we are in conversations with BT about what can be done to bring this time down.

“This is not only a challenge for Wiltshire Police but also a challenge nationally.”

Last year, the Wiltshire Times reported the force as saying it was ‘driving forward a series of improvement measures which are aimed at cutting the time’.

At the time, figures collated by Wiltshire Police itself suggested the majority of 999 calls were answered within 10 seconds. 

The police data does not include the first few seconds of a call which are answered by BT operators before being routed through to the correct police force area.

Dave Minty continued: “It should be noted that we are meeting our target response times for rural locations (20 mins) and urban areas (15 mins) in the vast majority of cases - this is the important part as it relates directly to us being able to respond effectively to the communities we serve

“And because of the investments we have made in the control room, we are seeing these attendance rates continuing to improve.”

The fastest police force to answer 999 calls is Lincolnshire Police, with an average response time of 6.91 seconds.

It also nearly hit the national answering time target, with 88.8% of calls answered within 10 seconds.

A BT spokesperson said: “The data that BT provides to government to inform the police 999 call answer league tables is collected and calculated uniformly across the country.

"Our data is based on the answer time of a 999 call, once a BT operator acknowledges a human answer by the relevant emergency service.

"We understand that police forces measure call times in different ways, using different systems, so there are likely to be discrepancies in how their data is captured and presented.

“We are working with many police forces, including Wiltshire, to share information on call transfers, to see if improvements can be made to help reduce the time they take to answer calls."